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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #73 [Review]

tmnt_idw_0073The Trial of Krang, Part One

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Cory Smith
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: Ted Adams
Cover: Cory Smith, Ronda Pattison
Published by: IDW
Cover Date: August 2017
Cover Price: $3.99

It’s been awhile since I reviewed an issue of this series. [ Note: yeah, the last issue I reviewed was #44, back in 2015! ] And a lot has happened over these last 30 issues or so, including the apparent death of Shredder, and the book feeling a lot like a new volume of a series since then. But perhaps most significant for this issue–this is the first TMNT comic series to hit #73! The second volume of Tales of the TMNT ended at #70 back in 2010 (though apparently there was a foreign-published ~100-copies issue put out as a #71, but that’s for another post entirely), and the Archie-published TMNT Adventures ended at #72 back in 1995. The original volume of TMNT, that started everything, ended at #62 back in 1993.

Over the past six years, 73 issues of this title, numerous mini-series, several specials, and a year of a monthly companion title, we’ve had the development of probably the richest, deepest TMNT continuity to date, with this series’ creators drawing in elements from pretty much every previous iteration of the series–be that comics, cartoon, movie, and even the (as of August 2017) current animated series.

The cover itself is a bit of a celebratory thing: we see the turtles standing triumphantly, crowds of (alien) people cheering them from all around, as they stand open in the city. Granted, this is an alien city, and not Earth, but hey…it works. And on the "meta" level, the celebration is also appropriate AS celebrating this being the longest-running TMNT comic ever (at least numerically), with no signs of slowing down.

Opening the issue, we see Krang–who outside of the FCBD 2017 issue, I don’t think we’ve seen in a couple years at least–firming stuff up with an assassin, as he sits in a guarded cell awaiting his trial. Neutrinos arrive on Earth to get the turtles and Fugitoid back to Smada city, where they’re surprised to come face to face with Leatherhead! After some initial testiness, the situation is explained as to why he’s there and that they’re all on the same side…for now. The Neutrino Royal Family celebrates the turtles as heroes of the Krang War in a huge gathering that they weren’t expecting. Later, they get a smaller, more private time with them, where they learn of other problems approaching…like Maligna and her Malignoids, seeking to fill the power vacuum left without General Krang. The group is joined by Counselor Apap, who reveals how important it is for the turtles and Professor Honeycutt (the Fugitoid) to retrieve the key witnesses…without them, they don’t have nearly what’s needed to keep Krang locked away! However, Krang’s assassin Hakk-r strikes, and Apap is killed. After a skirmish with the assassin (who escapes), it becomes the turtles’ mission to seek out the witnesses, as Honeycutt must remain behind…he’s suddenly become one of the most valuable players in things himself, with Apap gone…so the turtles head off to collect the witnesses.

This issue is really, truly, things Done Right, to me! If you’d told me several years ago I’d like the Neutrinos in a modern context, I’d’ve been quite skeptical. As they are here, in this series…I quite enjoy them! I "hear" echoes of the classic cartoon iterations of the characters, but really dig this series’ reinterpretation and presentation of them…and their society. I also really like that this Krang is a much deeper character with a fleshed-out background (compared to the cartoon, anyway!) and seems much more capable, and highly dangerous…far more of a threat than "just" some recurring, bumbling villain.

Visually, while this issue’s art is by Cory Smith rather than Mateus Santolouco, it’s similar enough to avoid being jarring, and is really some beautiful stuff! Over the years, I’ve gotten very used to radically differing visual interpretations of the turtles, so that in itself rarely bothers me. Having the art so similar is a real treat, and to be singularly attractive in itself is even better!

The issue’s story is also quite a treat to me…I really like that we’re (finally!) getting back to more "familiar" territory, while pushing the overall narrative FORWARD. I often complain about repetition and titles not "letting _____ go" and such…but the way Shredder was developed, and Krang, I very much like stories with them in this iteration of the TMNT. Having had what in some ways has felt very "generic" villains/antagonists for a couple years, it’s really great to have this picking bac up on stuff that I’ve missed.

Having recently been excited at the introduction of more classic Mutanimals characters (Jagwar and Dreadmon) being introduced (reinterpreted) into current IDW continuity, I’m also very excited at the prospect of what seems to be on the immediate horizon, with a couple of very recognizable "cameos" in this issue (that I presume will be touched on at length in the TMNT: Dimension X mini-series) and an outright mention of another "classic" villain that I believe may come into play next issue, given the "Next issue" box at the end of this issue.

While this may not be an ideal "jumping on" point for someone unfamiliar with the characters, it’s definitely a great point to come back if you haven’t cared much for stuff the last couple years (since #50, for example). It’s also not a horrible point to jump in, though, even if you haven’t followed this title since its inception back in 2011 or such. There’s a lot of context, and if you don’t mind stories where you jump in and "figure things out" as you go, it’ll probably be fairly enjoyable.

And, as said earlier…this is the highest-numbered TMNT issue ever, so even symbolically, this series has now surpassed every previous run and can truly come into its own, pushing the TMNT property forward with a pedigree more than equal to everything else!

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More Vintage TMNT Figures: Ace Duck and Fugitoid

I’d actually pretty much forgotten about a local vintage toy shop, Retroland Toys. In definite need of distraction from stuff going on ‘in real life’, I ended up stopping in last Friday–I think it’d been at least a year, if not a couple years since the last time I’d stopped in.

Given my recent-ish hunting down of vintage TMNT toys, I was curious as to what their stock and prices were like, particularly in comparison to Big Fun in Cleveland Heights.

more_vintage_tmnt_fugitoid_ace_duck

They had a decent assortment of the older TMNT figures; nothing that particularly surprised me, but I was rather excited to note they have a Foot Cruiser and a couple of really good-condition Man Ray/Ray Fillet figures…making me think I do want to get a “replacement” even though I’m not gonna flat-out get rid of my original of the figure.

They also had a number of variant turtles–sports turtles, military turtles, surfer turtles, and I found a couple of rocker turtles. (There were a bunch of figures and vehicles in a display case, and then a bin of individual figures bagged with accessories in a bin next to the case).

And for what I was half-expecting…VERY GOOD prices! A couple had prices a little bit out there, but for the most part they all seemed to be $10 or a little under, with the vehicles in the $20 range. Basically, the prices are perfectly on par with buying any new contemporary figure/vehicle, if not cheaper.

I ended up deciding to get Ace Duck and Fugitoid, with Ace Duck having been fairly tops in my mind as the next reasonable figure to be able to get.

I also “randomly” remembered over the weekend that I used to have the “Wacky Action” Shredder figure, so I’ve added that to my list…and I’ve added Ray Fillet.

Overall, for figures that seem relatively common-ish that may not be terribly hard to track down, I think I’m pretty much left with Ray Fillet, Splinter, Tattoo, and the Foot Cruiser. Hothead, Wacky Action Shredder, the Robotic Foot Soldier, the 5″ Krang/Android Body, and the “Toon” Shredder & Neutrinos I don’t think I’ve actually seen in person since seeing them on pegs over 20 years ago when they were new and I passed on them at the time.

I also suspect the Party Wagon will be a bit hard to find intact. My own is a “shell” with the top missing, numerous accessories missing, and so on…and mine’s in pretty darned good condition compared to several I’ve seen online. I don’t care about most accessories for it, but want the main outer part to look whole and not be missing anything obvious.

From these, I suspect it’ll be down the rabbit hole on tracking down other figures or “coming across them” “in the wild”–Star Trek TMNT and Cave Turtle TMNT and whatnot…perhaps a replacement or replacement parts for the Turtle Blimp.

My primary checklist thus currently stands as the following:

Replacements

  • Ace Duck
  • Baxter Stockman
  • Fugitoid
  • Rocksteady
  • Triceraton
  • Splinter
  • Ray Fillet
  • Wacky Action Shredder
  • Party Wagon (vehicle)

New (to me)

  • General Traag
  • Rat King
  • Leatherhead
  • Usagi Yojimbo
  • Dirtbag
  • Tattoo
  • Wyrm
  • April II
  • Merdude
  • Hothead
  • Krang’s Android Body (regular figure size)
  • Robotic Foot Soldier(s)
  • Toon Shreder
  • Dask (Neutrino)
  • Kala (Neutrino)
  • Zak (Neutrino) (if radically different from the ‘non-Toon’ version)
  • Movie Star Leo
  • Movie Star Mike
  • Movie Star Raph
  • Foot Cruiser (vehicle)

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TMNT Toy Acquisitions (Early December 2015)

While I’ve little interest in “variants” of the turtles themselves, and over the past year haven’t cared for any of the new characters I’ve come across…the more recent Dimension X figures based on the most recent season grabbed my attention.

I’d determined that I was definitely interested in the new Triceraton warrior Mozar, and the latest version of the Fugitoid, which I’ve had from the previous two major TMNT lines.

Last week, I came across Mozar and grudgingly purchased the figure…several days later I came across the Fugitoid, and did so with that as well.

Knowing I was already interested in these, and fast-approaching Christmas (where the last several years Christmas-time and a number of weeks after have left a gap in toy sections for the basic TMNT figures), I didn’t want to open myself to having seen these and then spending ages hunting them down, where I’d come across other toy-purchase-temptations I shouldn’t be spending money on.

So, unlike the TMNT Toys in the Wild…these two TMNT toys were recent purchases, added to my collection.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #18 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw018Story: Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Ben Bates
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Ben Bates
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

The bulk of this issue follows the turtles on planet Neutrino in Dimension X as they assess their situation and come to an understanding with the soldiers they encountered on Earth, native to this planet. They also learn what it is the soldiers were after as they realize all has not been as it seems. Meanwhile, back on Earth Splinter, April, and Casey deal with the sudden disappearance of the turtles. By issue’s end–18 issues into this new series–the turtles are introduced to General Krang, in a must more competent iteration than the ’80s cartoon that spawned the character.

Story-wise, this continues to be a great series that–on the whole–I am thoroughly enjoying. However, I’m growing a bit weary of 4-issue arcs, despite lingering subplots (and believe me, I am extremely grateful for subplots in an age where it seems stories are “written for the trade” and to be entirely self-contained). Eastman and Waltz continue to take core elements of the numerous iterations of these characters, and weave them together into a new tapestry that is at once familiar and yet new and interesting.

I particularly recognize Neutrinos Zak and Kala, and appreciate the turtles’ interactions with them; Mikey’s characterization with the princess is familiar as well. The turtles being suddenly, unexpectedly zapped to an alien planet in the middle of a war is a familiar “broad stroke” from the original Eastman/Laird series…though new in the specific details.

Visually, I’m liking Bates‘ art–it fits the characters well, and it just “works” for me. The only real weirdness is that the Neutrinos take on a very anime-like visual effect that contrasts a bit with the more sensible look of the other characters. Pattison‘s colors lend a real sense of continuity to the multiple artists on this series so far, where the linework’s changed, the colors have been consistent and certainly ease the transition between art styles.

This series has been on a relatively slow burn, steadily introducing characters and elements to the story, playing on past stories and expectations to build a strong continuity made up of the “best of” past versions of the TMNT. I’m truly appreciating the development, that things aren’t being rushed for the sake of getting characters in (especially characters whose original versions I find rather silly and off-putting as an adult). But I am increasingly anxious to see something a bit more major happen, something to truly shake up this continuity and define the characters–I’m not sure how, exactly–but it seems that other than the all-too-frustrating $3.99 price point this continuity would be ripe for a weekly series–or multiple series effectively making for weekly glimpses into the world.

With the typical 4-issue arcs, this is the 2nd chapter of this arc; so if you can find #17 along with this,  you can jump in and probably figure out for the most part what’s what, especially if you’re fairly familiar with the turtles anyway. Alternatively if you’re waiting for the collected volumes…this is shaping up to be another good mini-arc.

On the whole…the issue is good, and definitely leaves me quite interested in getting the next issue in-hand.

The Rest of the Stack: Week of September 5, 2012

The Rest of the Stack is my general mini-review coverage of new comics for any given week. It’s in addition to (or in place of) full-size individual reviews. It’s far less formal, and more off-the-top-of-my head thoughts on the given comics than it is detailed reviews.

THE HYPERNATURALS #3

I’m continuing to get drawn in, and the odd vocabulary elements are feeling a bit more normal. I’m liking the flashbacks that are fleshing out the present, and beginning to get a sense of the continuity that’s been built from the start of this series. You know something’s being done right when I’m interested in going back to re-read the issues so far just to appreciate the world that’s been built in such a short span of time. The story is engaging and the characters are easy enough to identify with. The art continues on a high note as well. Though I saw this issue’s end coming a couple pages early that ramped up the tension which made the cliffhanger both that much more appreciable and a bit anticlimactic, as if it ended a panel or two too soon.

BLOODSHOT #3

Three issues in, and I’m quite enjoying this series. Having figured out the art style for the flashbacks vs. the present, I quite enjoy the shifts, as we follow Bloodshot on his quest to find out the truth about his past. While he seeks his past, Project Rising Spirit is determined to remove him from the field permanently. The story kinda sucked me in on this issue; as said, recognizing flashbacks made this a much more enjoyable read and didn’t seem disruptive at all. I like both visual styles as presented here. As I keep saying, I’m enjoying this new take on a “classic” character; even knowing this isn’t the original “version” doesn’t bother me. Sort of a cross between Marvel’s Ultimate Comics line and DC‘s New 52, with the best of both worlds. Definitely looking forward to the next issue.

ARCHER AND ARMSTRONG #2

The cover to this issue puts me in mind of a cover from the early issues of the Wolverine relaunch back in ’03 or so, where we see grumpy Wolverine on the ground, a line of bullet-holes across the wall–and him; and just looking at it, you know someone’s in for a world o’ hurt. Here, we get a look at the two title characters and a scene that kinda plays on the state of things, and (at least to me) comes off as rather amusing. Archer with a crossbow, pondering the Armstrong, who he’s shot umpteen times but calmly (cheerfully, even!) drinking a beer. With his parents’ reality revealed, Archer breaks from them and decides to join Armstrong, and the two begin their quest for the parts of The Boon that are scattered throughout the world. Of course, it wouldn’t be a quest if it was easy, and things sure don’t start easy for the pair. I really like this new take on the characters–it’s fresher and somehow seems a bit more realistic than the classic. I also like that the title characters don’t spend the entire first arc or two against each other–I’m far more interested in how they handle things as a “team,” with such drastically different backgrounds, personality, and abilities. The story keeps me interested, and I like the art–and the character designs. This Armstrong looks younger–and more presentable–than the classic, and somehow, that brings more of a sense of “fun” to the title, amidst the darker, more serious elements.

TMNT MICRO-SERIES #8: FUGITOID

This issue introduces us to the Fugitoid–an alien scientist in a robot body. This issue as a whole is “the origin issue” for the Fugitoid, detailing the robot as well as Dr. Honeycutt, and the motivations that led to the Fugitoid’s situation. While the essense of the original origin is present, details have obviously been changed–and it works really well for me. The art’s pretty solid, and pulls off the “alien, yet similar to Earth” vibe. The story itself is good, though I found out after reading this that the issue spoils something from the next issue of the main TMNT title–though I didn’t feel like there was anything particularly revelatory, and actually thought this played off stuff we’ve already seen. We get a glimpse of an entire culture that works far better for me than their use in the classic cartoon–taking a campy, goofy concept and making it a valid, reasonable element for the current continuity. The issue ends with no ad for a next issue, and I’m unsure if there will be any more–the first collected volume was 4 issues, and this is the 8th–making another complete 4-issue volume. I hope these continue; as I’ve indicated before–I’d gladly keep buying this companion series to the main title, with different creative teams and spotlight characters.

TMNT COLOR CLASSICS #4

While the turtles are out searching for Splinter, they are ambushed by the Foot, who want revenge for the death of Shredder. While battling the ninjas, the turtles come across a strange building marked with the letters “TCRI”–which they recognize as the same as what was on the canister of goo that mutated them. When they investigate the building further, they find plenty of oddities, including the inhabitants of the building, and an alien device they’ve built that spells major issue for the turtles’ future. The story is fairly simple, and things kinda scoot along quickly. This is still early in the existence of the TMNT, so for me it’s more the ideas that were put forth than actual grace in execution of the story. The art’s solid, and quite a contrast to contemporary takes on the characters. Still, I like it, and it’s really cool to see this colorized in a single-issue format; if I didn’t know it started out black-and-white and had no attention called to it, I’d have a hard time believing this wasn’t a color comic to begin with. Despite the various collected volumes already out, I hope this Color Classics series lasts long enough to re-present the entire Mirage vol. 1 TMNT series…though I wouldn’t entirely mind if it skips a bunch of the middle stuff and just re-presents the “core” Eastman/Laird stuff of the first 11 issues, Micro-Series, Return to New York, and City at War arcs.

Tales of the TMNT #54 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Mere Appendix

Raphael accidentally damages the Fugitoid during a bar scuffle, which leads Professor Honeycutt to some questions about his past.

talesofthetmnt054Script: Andrew Bonia
Pencils: Bob LeFevre
Inks: Mostafa Moussa
Tones: L. Jamal Walton
Letters: Eric Talbot
Cover: Bob LeFevre, Mostafa Moussa, Steve Lavigne
Frontispiece: Michael Dooney
Publisher: Mirage

Beginning the issue, we find ourselves with the Ninja Turtles in a brawl at a local pub on the planet Queexox V. (This is apparently the homeworld of Professor Honeycutt, known to most as “the Fugitoid.”) During the brawl, Raphael accidentally puts a sai through Honeycutt’s eye, badly damaging him. With damaged Fugitoid in tow, the Turtles escape to the Utroms. After determining that the utroms don’t know enough to truly fix the robot body, the Turtles take him to his old lab for him to attempt self-repair. make a break for it, seeking Honeycutt’s old lab so he can attempt to fix himself.

The art for this issue is very blocky, with thick lines and rather cartooney proportions, even for something like the TMNT. The art in itself isn’t bad, but the style isn’t to my own liking–it puts me in mind of manga-style art, while coming across a bit generically and without striking me as being manga-styled. If manga-ish art is your thing, you should have no problem with this.

The story itself is pretty good, drawing very nicely on TMNT backstory, with flashbacks to Professor Honeycutt/Fugitoid’s first appearance (the one-shot Fugitoid). This story is set at some point in the TMNT story, though no definitive time is referenced. The Turtles themselves are virtually background players in this issue–something to initiate the conflict of the story and then follow events along. The heart of the story is about Fugitoid exploring his past and determining the nature of the accident that long ago transferred his mind into a robot body, and raising the all-too-human question about “who am I?”

As a whole, this is a solid issue focusing on the Fugitoid and injecting some humanity–and question–into it. Longtime fans ought to find their knowledge of the character refreshed and fleshed out a bit (at least in terms of the character’s motivation), while newer fans will discover more about a character that hasn’t had much of a spotlight in a lotta years.

Recommended.

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 2.5/5
Overall: 3/5

Tales of the TMNT #54 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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